Lotoo PAW S1 Headphone AMP Review
DAC Chip: AKM AK4377 (OPA1622) FW: 3rd Version 188.8.131.52 MQA
PCM 24bit - 384khz MQA, SNR: -118dB (SE), -114db (Bal), Power: 70mW SE 32 Ohm, 120mW BAL 32 Ohm, USB Type-C Female Socket, 4.4mm BAL & 3.5mm SE (Microphone: No), 27g, 66 x 22 x 13mm, Metal Chassis
- Sumptuous neutral and natural silky smooth organic timbre, beautifully bodied
- Astronomical technical prowess, reference grade for under 250Ω category
- Matured, controlled dynamics presentation, not overdoing it to impress.
- Reference grade Mids, Treble and Bass decays, so exceptionally smooth
- Flagship grade micro details, refined resolution, crisp
- Reference grade transparency, devoid of any hint of coloration
- Silky addictive Treble with matured finesse, depth, extension, and textures
- Sub-Bass exhibit stellar depth and richness, soothing seismic sensations
- Head pounding Mid-Bass impact when needed, silky rich textures.
- Lush realistic male and female vocals with rich silky body
- Realistic guitars, cello, percussions, piano, and stringed instruments tone
- WIDE expansive, open soundstage with great airiness
- Mind blowing speed and transients capabilities, zero congestion.
- Zero floor noise, totally black background
- Zero hint of graininess even on the most extended regions
- Spectacular sibilance resistances
- Exemplary synergy capabilities will match with wide variety of IEMs/HPs.
- Exemplary, very refined hardware volume adjuster
- Built like a Tank, very premium feel, and look.
- Informative LCD indicator
- User upgradeable Firmware
- Does not heat up easily.
- Not the most powerful even on balanced 4.4 circuit, 250Ω max for full fidelity at almost 90/10 volume (SE)
- Imaging and spatial positioning could use a bit of razor-edged precision.
- Smooth characteristics could result in being less bite and groove on some songs.
- Trades off tiny bit of outright surgical and analytical prowess for musicality.
- The HEAVIEST Dongle tested at 27gm.
- Less forgiving on source quality, very revealing.
Lotoo PAW S1 (Firmware Version 3), You can see how many times I use the word “silky” and “smooth” on this beauty. Because that’s what it is – the perfect analogy to describe this very analogue organic sounding DAC/Amp that handles everything with refined matured smoothness. Akin to exotic silks. S1 does not aim to be the outright champion on the technical front, what it does aim for is the even more difficult balance between analytics and musicality. In the battle for technical prowess, many examples that I have come across sacrificed some elements, that made them substantially less entertaining – somewhat dry or outright cold sounding in contrast.
Comparatively, there’s so many similarities between PAW S1 and A&K PEE51 – both focuses on organic and smooth (yet exceedingly technical) approach to sound reproduction. If PAW S1 being Silk, then PEE51 being Suede – both will please the senses with soothing neutral timbre. Perhaps PEE51 tilting a bit more towards vibrancy and S1 towards maturity. Great choice to pick any which way you want it to suit individual preferences. One of these two strongest attributes, being able to synergize with pretty much anything – BA, DD, Hybrid, Electrostatic and Magnetic Planars.
PS: It is worth to mention that the update to FW version 3 (184.108.40.206) is mandatory. Without the FW update, S1 are not as stellar as how I described it above. If you haven’t done so – DO IT NOW!
OVERALL RATING: 98/100
Recommended Pairing: Highly adaptive and flexible.